Moxibustion (艾灸)

–Informant Info–

Nationality: Taiwanese American


Occupation: Technition

Residence: Los Angeles, California

Date of Performance/Collection: 2022

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): Cantonese, Thai

(Notes-The informant will be referred AM to as and the interviewer as K)

Background info: AM a Taiwanese American techint8ion who was born and raised in California to Taiwanese parents, which is where she learned of this folk medicine. She also practiced it as a child and continues to do so today with her own family.

K: Ok uh what medicine are you going to be telling me about, where did you learn about it, and why or under uh what circumstances were this medicine used?

AM: Yeah it’s called uh 艾灸 or I’ve heard it be called Moxibustion in English. Uh, my mom would take me to the doctor to have this done when I started getting menstrual pain or if my Qi was uh blocked.

K: Ok! Whenever you’re ready you can describe it

AM: Yeah it’s simple uh so you lay down and then these uh little mugwort things are placed on your body, they kinda resemble uh incense cones. So they’re burned, and then this really smelly smoke comes out and you just lay there breathing it in, and then your pain goes away. It’s also just really relaxing because of the heat.

I wish I was able to hear about more traditional folk medicine because of how interesting it is. I wasn’t able to do much research on the actual scientific possibilities as to why this works, but the important thing is that it does help people. I believe at least that as long as folk medicine isn’t claiming to heal cancer (think of the fruitarian diet, for example), it’s incredibly useful and helps people. That is an important bias to note as well. Folk medicine is incredibly common in many East Asian cultures, and there are thousands of different traditions so it would be incredibly difficult to collect them all, especially (as the informant would later note) nearly every household as their own “concoctions” to treat common illness and pain.